One bit of advice from the 1First Comics Web Developer as a second In-House Response to the #ComicsBrokeMe tag that trended:
Previously, we published a harsh truth about getting into, producing, and publishing comics. It was something that we felt needed to be stated. You should have no illusions about what it takes to get into and work in the comic book industry. It’s an entertainment industry just like TV, Movies, Games, and books. Everyone wants to work in entertainment and have the satisfaction that something they helped make is touching people emotionally. We want to be that ugly duckling that turns into a swan, we want to be that foot that fits into the glass slipper, we want to belong and to make a difference! That’s what everyone wants to happen all the time. If you ignore Internet trolls…oh god, please don’t let this summon them…the entertainment industry always seems to be where you can have that wish fulfilled.
Now I am going to make a pop culture reference and hopefully Disney does not sue. Matt and John provided the medicine. Here is a spoonful of sugar to help the medicine go down.
I have loved comics since fifth grade. Ever since I went to my Grandparents for a summer and my cousin dragged me to the comic book store. My parents still have not forgiven him for doing that. I am 41 now. They know how to hold a grudge. (I’m kidding of course about the grudge…or am I?)
I eventually decided I wanted to get into the comic book industry. Problem is I have…problems. Too numerous to go into but let’s just say the main problem goes by a four-letter acronym that people usually say is BS and I’m actually just lazy. Joke’s on them, I have medical research to prove I’m not. Basically, I have had challenges to overcome. So, I decided to try and get into the industry through a side door. 17 years later I have one Bachelors, two Associates and one certification. I work in retail as my day job.
Now why have I told you all this? Completely TMI and off the subject, right? Well, notice where you are reading this. I got into the industry. Here comes the sugar, baby. (Yes, that is an Ash reference from Evil Dead. Not Duke Nukem. Duke Nukem stole all of Ash’s one liners. So, Ash gets the credit and Nukem gets the shame)
First, make Friends and connections. In this day and age, you are more likely to get a job if you are recommended by someone at the company or industry you are applying to. I got a job recommendation from a friend in the industry not only because we were friends, but because I had learned and developed skills that were useful. I had gotten good at web development and various graphic design programs.
You see, writing and Illustrating is not the only job in comics. You can get into the industry by doing other jobs that need doing. Jobs that are instrumental in getting the comics put together and published. Jobs that also help sell the comics. I got hired to make the 1First Comics website.
In short, try and get a job other than writing or illustrating. If you are working at the company that makes it, you might impress someone enough that they would be willing to give you a chance.
Second, The Internet is your friend…just…beware the trolls. Don’t feed the trolls.
If you want to get published as cheaply as possible and have your work get out there, then publish on a web site of your own making. Promote it using social media (Deviant Art, Facebook Page (not a Facebook profile, a Facebook page), Mastadon, Instagram, Webtoon, etc.). Then drain many, many, many printer cartridges to print either a single comics page, a flyer to promote at conventions, or prints to sell/hand out if you get a booth in Artist’s alley or just on the fly if you don’t have a booth (Make sure you use good strong paper, not the usual printer paper). While it may not make you famous overnight, it’s a good starting point. I’m sure you can think of many online comics that are out there right now that you probably read every couple of days to weeks. Those folks are in the comic industry.
When you make the site use as many analytics services as you can (WordPress-Jetpack, Squarespace, Google Analytics, Bing Analytics, etc.). They will help you figure out your audience. If you use SEO properly once you figure that out, the analytics will be telling you that you have a lot of unique views (meaning each visitor’s IP Address is different meaning many, many different visitors aka a Large audience). At that point, you can use services out there that can help you financially support this goal. Such services as Patreon, PayPal, Venmo, and Jetpack for WordPress (it’s a multifaceted service/plugin WordPress develops in house).
I’ve had a story stuck in my head since High School and I knew I didn’t have the connections or the experience I needed to show a publishing company they should take a chance on me. I just had the previously mentioned friend. It took until 2016 (I graduated college in 2004, 2011, and 2017) before I got my first job in the comic book industry…which was this one. Sometimes the hard work is just being patient and doing what you love for fun. I still haven’t made any comics and that story is still in my head and nowhere else. But I have a plan and I haven’t given up. I have basically just told you my entire road map. Use at your own discretion as I am not claiming this is get famous quick scheme. Remember, I am not famous.
Hell, I might never get something printed, but I am enjoying the journey.
Unlike when I started down my path (1993…I’m old…please don’t look at me…just keep reading). There are now tools on the web that will let you do that in your spare time. Use these tools to find an audience that might eventually give you a buck or five every month to keep doing what you love doing. Once you get enough people to do that, you can accomplish a lot.
It’s up to you if you want to let the harsh reality, that the #ComicsBrokme trend has shown people, break you.
Thank you, John and Matt, for letting me do this.
I hope this helped give someone some direction. If you’re going in my direction, I’ll see you there…at some point…I hope. ?